Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Recreating Shackleton's journey

A group of Australian and British explorers is about to recreate Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1916 trans-Antarctic voyage, one of the greatest journeys of human survival ever made. I wrote about the expedition as part of a piece about following in the footsteps of the famous for the Guardian's Comment is free pages.

The 2013 voyage, led by British-born Tim Jarvis, aims to row the same route as Shackleton in a replica seven-metre lifeboat, navigating with a sextant and  even eating the same food as the original team. However, lack of space prevented me from mentioning that this isn't the first time someone has tried to retrace the route. Crossings were made in 1955 and 1994,  while in 1997 a crew of Irishmen had to give up their attempt after capsizing three times in 24 hours. A few years later, mountaineers Conrad Anker, Reinhold Messner and Stephen Venables trekked across the mountains and glaciers of South Georgia for the Imax film, Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure. No doubt there have been other attempts.

Jarvis' venture though appears to be to a genuine attempt to recreate the entire 1916 'double' voyage from Elephant Island all the way to Stromness, on South George. It is fraught with danger and the only concessions to the use of period items will be emergency equipment on board the boat, and the presence of a support vessel, Australis in the Southern Ocean. You can of course follow the progress of the trip via twitter: @ShackletonEpic.